Welcome to the review of ACT! 2012. If you are a subscriber and got access to our Free Video Training Series: Top 5 Most Overlooked ACT! Features you are likely here due to our special notice email. This post is designed to give you an understanding and overview of what is included in the latest version of ACT!, Sage ACT! 2012. I will also share my take on these features. Having supported the product for over 10 years, I like the direction Sage is taking ACT!, some may feel they are “late” on some of these features, I say, better late than never, right? May this information help you understand what you need to determine if Sage ACT! 2012 is for you. The graphics were furnished by Sage, via their partner webinar (thanks Sage!).
There are four main area of improvement which includes a virtual notepad, integration with Gmail and more, improved (Universal) search), and a new service allowing users to access data from anywhere, mobility.
Sage ACT! 2012 Scratchpad – Virtual Notepad
In version 6 and older there was a product called SideACT!. The virtual notepad is a beefed up version SideACT!.
The notepad is a standalone application that allows a user to quickly jot down notes, reminders, and to-dos in a simply interface.
After jotting down a few items, they can be organized, checked off, printed, or items pushed into a Sage ACT! 2012 database.
It can connect to a Windows-based Sage ACT! 2012 database, as well as the web-based Sage ACT! 2012 edition, there is a different version if you wish to connect to the ACT! 2012 for web.
The Sage ACT! It supports multiple databases allowing uses to export a scratchpad note as an activity or note to different Sage ACT! databases as they need.
Thoughts on Scratchpad
ACT! users who have been loyal through the years may find this a welcome feature. Those new to the software may like it as well. It is an easy way to take notes without having the ACT! software open. Exporting items to an ACT! database of your choosing is helpful as well.
Integration with Gmail Sage ACT! 2012
If you are an avid Gmail user, or perhaps even a Google plus user, you’ll be thrilled to know that there is now native support for Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google contacts in Sage ACT! 2012.
Google Apps is growing in popularity among small business and big business alike. If you don’t use Google Apps in your business, it may be worth a look as it has a strong value proposition and lots of customers.
A couple points about this feature set:
- Gmail Record to History. Users can select the Gmail option on a contact record to initiate the history setting. Matches the e-mail addresses to the ACT! email address field.
- Google Calendar. Must be configured prior to synchronizing with Sage ACT! 2012.
- Contact Mapping. If the default mappings don’t work for your database, at this time you must manually configure an external file to modify mappings.
- Gmail Experience. Setting up the ability to initiate an email from ACT! to be sent from Gmail requires additional setup that isn’t currently tightly integrated with ACT!
My Impression of this Gmail Feature in Sage ACT! 2012
This is a great first step. I like that it they see the value of Gmail for the average productivity worker and business owner (or Google apps), and have committed to supporting it. I’d love to see them make the integration tighter, currently there are steps involved after install to get this feature working, which should be within the setup wizard, or preferences area.
Improved Search, Universal Search in Sage ACT! 2012
For those new to ACT!, the most used feature has been the famous “Lookup”. It is a way to find records in the database. In Sage ACT! 2012 This has been enhanced to a more Universal Search function.
Soundex search. This is one of the more compelling features of universal search. Allows users to search for ‘brian’ and it will return those who match brian, bryan, and brianne.
Universal search results. It’s worth noting that after installing ACT! on a system with an existing database, it takes a few minutes to build the universal search index. Results are presented in a weighted manner, most relevant results first.
It’s worth mentioning that Universal search is different from Keyword Search. Below is a quick matrix of differences.
Universal search in Sage ACT! 2012 may cause some confusion initially for users who are used to the popular search parameters on the lookup menu or left hand dock. More advanced users will get used to it quickly and enjoy the fact that they can now search documents and more, while benefiting from the soundex search, afterall, who doesn’t mis-spell things from time to time (yours truly!)?
With the release of Sage ACT! 2012 there have been some enhancements related to the initial experience.
- Installation. More informative dialogues giving users a better idea how long the installation may take.
- Data Import. New support for Salesforce.com data as a data import source. Improved dialogues and logs letting users know what didn’t import (and why).
- Web Management. Now administrators can manage users, teams, passwords, and lock/unlock database from the web client.
My Take on Administrative Improvements in Sage ACT! 2012
System administrators and single user environments will make the most of these features. The ability to import from Salesforce.com data is critical to Sage’s strategic direction, but more than that, will make it easier to cost justify the move to ACT! if the Salesforce importer works well.
Anywhere Access to ACT! with Sage ACT! Connect
With the release of Sage ACT! 2012 comes the release if Sage ACT! Connect.
Sync with Remote and Mobile Devices
Access ACT! data from web browsers Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari, support for popular tablets like the iPad (no idea on android tablets), and mobile devices like the iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile phones.
Services sync. It also supports sync with Yahoo, Google, and Facebook.
Existing Sage Mobile for ACT! users. Another name change, other than that there is no big changes for this migration, there will be a popup on customer desktops to update their software.
Data Compatibility: Sage ACT! Connect works with ACT! by Sage 2010, Sage ACT! 2011, and Sage ACT! 2012. This is part of their forward going strategy and will likely work at the time new versions of their software releases.
Pricing: $69.95 per user per year. Early bird pricing is available at $59.95. It is bundled free with the Sage Business Care Gold package.
My Take on the Sage ACT! Connect Service
Cautiously optimistic. I think it is a logical extension of services they should be offering as customers need this type of connectivity, and have been clamoring for it. I did not have a chance to test the service, but am optimistic, and will be watching closely to see how the service does for others. In the meantime I’ll continue to recommend a proven solution until Sage ACT! connect is proven among its large user base.
Bottom-line on Sage ACT! 2012
Overall this version builds on the success of previous editions. The fact that they are moving forward with Google integration is encouraging, though by all accounts it appears to be a 1.0 version of that feature. The universal search will serve advanced users well, and administrators will appreciate the improved install experience. Scratchpad is a much needed enhancement, that new and old users alike will take advantage of from regardless of connecting to a local, or web-based database. Sage ACT! Connect sounds interesting, but I’ll need to take a deeper look before making any conclusions (synchronizing data is no easy task!).